As his father looked on, Munjal Jr said that over the years several initiatives have been taken, be it the opening of the Wagah border or the bus service between New Delhi and Lahore. "These made a difference, but it is not enough," he said.
Stating that every constituency, be it the government or the bureaucracy has its particular brief. Hence, the need of the hour is to build people-to-people and business-to-business contacts. "It has been proven in many countries that once trade opens, you build a vested interest for peace. Governments of both countries need to encourage business contacts," he said and added it isn't the big companies but the small-and medium-sized businesses that need initiatives like Aman ki Asha to help them break trade barriers.
Speaking of the waste closed borders lead to, he cited an example on how a business in Indian Punjab wanted cotton to be imported from Pakistan's Punjab. Munjal said, "The cotton went from Pakistan's Punjab to Karachi and was routed into Indian Punjab via Mumbai. By the time the consignment arrived here the cotton season was over. I can't understand why it should take so much time when the travel time is only six hours between the two Punjabs."
Stressing that confidence building and openness should be a continuous process, he said that business cannot be done in an atmosphere of inconsistency. "We need to look beyond our nose and look long term," he added.
Rahul Kansal, chief marketing officer, The Times of India Group, said that petty bottlenecks were hampering trade between India and Pakistan. "We need to fix the immediate problem and take baby steps for tangible gains. There is a lot we can do with present rules and regulations rather than wait for political action of granting of most-favoured nation status. Trade can itself be a catalyst for change in the political climate," he said.
Courtesy: Times of India
Sunday, May 23, 2010
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
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